Mar 11, 2020 - Economy & Business

Coronavirus has disrupted supply chains for nearly 75% of U.S. companies

Employees produce medical masks at Madaran Medical Manufacturing Company in Robat Karim district of Tehran, Iran. Photo: Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused supply chain disruptions for nearly three-quarters of U.S. companies, and many are already pricing in revenue losses this year as a result, according to a special ISM survey.

What's happening: Data show global production out of China fell to an all-time low last month, with freight and shipping slowing dramatically as the virus has shuttered factories and container ports.

  • Quarantined workers and shortages of components have further crimped the availability of goods from China, which is the world's hub for manufacturing.

The intrigue: Of the companies surveyed that expect supply chain impacts (80% said yes), most expect the severity of the disruptions will increase after the first quarter of this year.

Why it matters: The virus' impact has not yet been quantified, but the survey from the Institute for Supply Management — the first of its kind — shows just how widespread its impacts have already been for American businesses.

  • “The story the data tells is that companies are faced with a lengthy recovery to normal operations in the wake of the virus outbreak,” ISM CEO Thomas W. Derry said in a statement.
  • “For a majority of U.S. businesses, lead times have doubled, and that shortage is compounded by the shortage of air and ocean freight options to move product to the United States -- even if they can get orders filled.”

Details: ISM's business contacts, of which 81% are firms with revenues of less than $10 billion, reported a laundry list of disruptions that have already resulted from the outbreak.

  • Manufacturers in China report operating at 50% capacity with 56% of normal staff.
  • More than 44% of respondents said they did not have a plan in place to address supply disruption from China.
  • Six in 10 (62%) respondents are experiencing delays in receiving orders from China.
  • More than half (53%) are having difficulty getting supply chain information from China.
  • Nearly one-half are experiencing delays moving goods within China (48%).
  • Almost one-half (46%) report delays loading goods at Chinese ports.

Of note: The survey was conducted between Feb. 22 and March 5 among 628 respondents that largely represent U.S. organizations.

Go deeper

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Why it matters: The global tech economy's just-in-time supply chain has never faced a disruption quite like this one. And while many observers are guardedly optimistic, no one knows for sure yet how this crisis will play out or what sorts of shortages the industry might still face.

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